Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering, & Technology
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Leonardo's Miter Gate
Languedoc Canal
Caledonian Canal
Panama Canal Zone

The Panama Canal

Panama Canal Zone
French Project
Gatun Dam and Locks
Culebra Cut
Opening Panama Canal

Centuries of Civil Engineering

Nichols, A.B., Office Engineer, Culebra, Canal Zone, Panama
Panama Canal Notebooks.
Manuscripts, typescripts, maps, blueprints, and printed materials, circa 1906-1920.
94 volumes
Water Supply
Image Index


The Panama Canal - A Firsthand Account

A French company had been working on the canal in Panama since 1881, while the U.S. investigated the possibility of building a canal across Nicaragua. A.B. Nichols was a division engineer in charge of surveys for a Nicaragua canal route for the U.S. Isthmian Canal Commission from 1899 to 1901. After the Republic of Panama seceded from Colombia and signed a treaty with the United States in 1903, the Isthmian Canal Commission assumed authority over the Panama Canal Zone, and in May 1904, A.B. Nichols was appointed to the Panama Canal service. In that same month, the French property on the Isthmus was formally transferred to the Americans, and by September 1904, there were 1,800 workers on site. A.B. Nichols continued to work in the Canal Zone until 1914, when the Panama Canal was completed. His engineering notebooks, including manuscript notes, typescripts, photographs, blueprints, maps, charts, and scrapbooks, provide a firsthand account of the building of the Panama Canal.

The photograph on the left shows the headquarters building of the Compagnie Universal du Canal Interoceanique.


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